Race/IQ Explanation Gap
Posted on: 2007-11-14 12:00:16
"Achievement Gap Summit" stumped
By Jared Taylor
The black-white achievement gap continues to baffle America's best minds. Just this week we are being treated to the "Achievement Gap Summit," a conference in Sacramento, California. It will draw no fewer than 4,000 uplift experts to no fewer than 125 panels.
One of the organizers is Jack O’Connell, California’s top bureaucrat for schools. He has announced the bold discovery that lagging black and Hispanic test scores are not caused by poverty alone. The racial gaps in achievement are even greater for middle-class and wealthy children than for poor children, he has found. So, he says, something else must be going on.
Mr. O’Connell has decided the culprit is "cultural ignorance" in the schools. For example, he explains, blacks learn to clap and chant in church, and don’t realize they are not supposed to do this in school. And so they get bad grades.
Mr. O'Connell has gone through hours of sensitivity training to learn this. He wants every teacher in California to do the same.
One thing he’s sure about: The problem is "absolutely, positively not genetic."
Likewise this week, newspapers reported on a Pew Charitable Trust study [Economic Mobility of Black and White Families] that found blacks are three times more likely than whites to drop out of the middle class into the lowest fifth of income earners.
More specifically, 45 percent of black children whose parents were earning the 1968 median income grew up to be poor. Only 16 percent of white children from similar families hit the skids.
Columbia sociologist Ronald B. Mincy, who was an advisor to the Pew study, says they went over the results again and again to make sure they were right. "There is a lot of downward mobility among African Americans," he told the Washington Post. "We don't have an explanation."
Well, I am not handicapped by a professorship at Columbia. So I do have an explanation—and Jack O’Connell and the Achievement Gap crowd ought to listen up, too.
Ever since IQ tests have been given in the US, the black average has been 85—a full 15 points below the white average.
There is a lot of overlap, of course, and some blacks are smarter than most whites. But while 50 percent of whites have IQs over 100, only 16 percent of blacks do. Likewise, whites are 20 times more likely than backs to have IQs of 130 or higher.
One of the best-established facts in the social sciences—and something that is obvious to everyone—is that people with high IQs tend to do better in school and better in life than people with low IQs.
Clapping and chanting in church has nothing to do with it.
The evidence that racial differences in IQ are at least partly genetic is overwhelming, despite the outraged shrieks that greet anyone who points this out. (As the James Watson affair shows, the shrieks have become so hysterical we can be sure the guardians of orthodoxy are less sure of their position than ever.)
There is something else the hand-wringers should think about: regression to the mean, or the tendency for natural phenomena to draw back from extremes towards the average.
When very tall people have children, for example, they don’t keep getting taller and taller, generation after generation. The children are likely to be taller than average—but not as tall as their parents.
The process works in the other direction, too: Very short people don’t keep having even shorter children; the generations drift up towards the average.
The same goes for intelligence. Francis Galton noted in the 1860s that geniuses’ children are smart, but they usually aren’t geniuses. Likewise, dummies tend to have children smarter than themselves.
Regression is only a tendency, however. Occasionally parents at the extremes produce children who are even more extreme. But that is rare. The more extreme the parents are, the stronger the pullback towards the mean.
The people who agonize over the achievement gap would rather cover their ears than hear this—but regression explains what baffles both Mr. O’Connell in California and Prof. Mincy of Columbia. It explains both why the black-white (and Hispanic-Asian) achievement gap is greater at higher income levels, and why blacks are more likely to fall out of the middle class than whites.
Breaking the Great Taboo
The New Racial Consciousness